Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Why Your Office Will Disappear

If you’re like most people, you probably work in a large office building alongside colleagues who, much of the time, are away from their seats in meetings, at lunch or traveling for business.

Driven by a global recession, an emerging sharing economy, a more mobile workforce and concern about climate change, COOs, entrepreneurs and other business leaders are looking for ways to make office spaces more efficient. Paying high real estate costs and electric bills for people who use their space 30% of the time doesn’t make good fiscal or environmental sense. For these reasons and more, a drastic change is underway that will make the traditional office as you know it disappear.

Where Will You Work?

Collaborative work spaces everywhere are defining themselves as “coworking spaces,” or workplaces that are shared, fostering productivity, community and collaboration. Good for startups, freelancers, independent workers and entrepreneurs, the trend is growing exponentially. According to Deskmag, the number of coworking spaces has increased 200% annually for seven years. The Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) convened this month, sharing new strategies for the future.

What Your Office Will Look Like

The architectural silos that separate departments will erode. You will know more about what’s happening in other areas of your organization. Open plans will create cafe-like atmospheres and promote creativity and transparency. Office layouts will be more structured for liquid, easy work.


New workplace tools like Flockd, unveiled at GCUC, will help people across departments start conversations while increasing productivity.

flockdFlockd offers a new system for people to signal whether they’re free. The available, “Lets Flock,” signal encourages coworkers to interact and connect, while the, “I’m Busy” signal sets clear, healthy boundaries. Better work flow means more free time.

Less Stuff, Less Overhead

Sharing an office means the stuff you need, but hardly use, is also accessible to 100 other companies who share your space. One paper cutter for 100 companies instead of 100 paper cutters. And it means the usual overhead, like rent and heating bills, is split among them too.

Proximal Innovation

FastCompany recognizes the serendipitous, positive function of proximity stimulating innovation. A recent study found “the best, most-widely cited research came from coauthors sitting less than 10 meters apart. ‘How closely they worked mattered as much, if not more, than their affiliation,’ says the study’s author, Isaac Kohane of Harvard Medical School. Coworking’s combination of casual relationships and shared spaces, he suggests, can lead to some of an employee’s most fruitful collaborations.”

OfficeEdited = Smarter Business

As big business comes aboard the coworking revolution, the triple bottom line gets better. American Express recently lowered its carbon footprint by 27.5 percent, citing a decrease in business travel and the creation of centers for virtual meetings. Widely recognized for championing economic development and entrepreneurship is Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, championing Las Vegas and its Downtown Project to become the coworking capital of the world.


The League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces (LEXC) has become a resource for such corporations expanding their workplace strategy. The organization’s first corporate customer is Accenture. Good for mobile workers, LEXC offers a new work solution for larger companies.

“Facilities plans have been kept too separate from business plans for far too long,” says Brian Macmahon of Your Office Agent, a commercial agency specializing in leaner work space. “Forward-thinking companies of all sizes are exploring these new models.”

Disclosure: The contributor Marissa Feinberg is the shared office space owner of Green Spaces NY, upcoming member of LEXC, cofounder of Flockd and attends GCUC.

  • Leslie Olson

    So how does this system work in the context of the legal field, where both the appearance of and actual confidentiality is paramount? I’ve been trying to solve that problem and to date have been stymied.

    • Hello Leslie. Confidentiality is an important issue and there are solid ways to address it. At our space we have private conference rooms and phone rooms where people go for confidential calls and meetings. Many coworking spaces also have private offices available, with a mingling area for people to convene where they want. This way, there is still a sense of sharing and community, with other diverse businesses present. Make sense?

  • Heather Deiss

    I’m a contractor with a Federal agency, and my team has just moved into a co-working design. With 11 on our team, 5 of us work from home while 5 are each in a cube. Then on specified days we switch so that the 5 in the office now work from home and visa versa. By doing this we have shrunk our cube space from 11 to 6 (the boss kept his cube), and we co-locate in the cubes. In decreasing our footprint, we save ~15K per month in overhead costs.

    • Hello Heather,
      Thank you for sharing this success story!

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  • I visited a client that had this open office format. It was chaos. I was supposed to be introduced to a lot of the people I would be working with, but no one knew where anyone was. Are they out to lunch? In the bathroom? Did they even come in today? It was like being back in highschool. No place to call your own other than a tiny locker for your coat and laptop bag.